20 best places to live in America if you want to make a lot of money

Finding a great job that comes with a significant salary boost is one of the top reasons to move to a new city.

In its recently released ranking of the best places to live in America, U.S. News & World Report gathered data on the 100 most populous US cities. Among the factors it considered were affordable housing, a low cost of living, good schools, quality healthcare, and access to well-paying jobs. You can read U.S. News’ full methodology here.

Business Insider reranked these cities based on median annual salary to find the 20 where residents earn the most. They don’t all rank highly onU.S. News’ overall list, given higher costs of living and other factors, so we’ve included each city’s overall ranking for comparison’s sake. For instance, Chicago ranks at No. 20 in terms of salary, but it came in only at No. 90 on the list of 100.

Of the 100 best places to live in the US, here are 20 where you can land the highest-paying jobs:

20. Santa Rosa, California

Population: 491,790

Median annual salary: $49,800

Overall rank on best places to live list: 62

Just 55 miles north of San Francisco sits Santa Rosa, one of Sonoma County’s premier wine-country towns. According to US News’ local expert, Santa Rosa is an originator of the farm-to-table movement and “a haven for bicyclists, who train on its rural western roads and visit en masse for two major cycling events: the Amgen Tour of California and the Levi’s GranFondo.”

The job market in Santa Rosa is powered by tourism: 9% of residents work in the industry, mainly at local farms, wineries, and brewpubs.

19. Chicago, Illinois

Population: 9,516,448

Median annual salary: $50,410

Overall rank on best places to live list: 90

The Midwest’s largest city may have a couple of drawbacks, including frigid winters and a high cost of living, but Chicago is also host to a bevy of corporations — 31 in the Fortune 500 — that can set residents up with a high-paying salary, including Boeing, United Airlines, Kraft, and Allstate.

Chicago also has a dynamic restaurant scene — far more than just the deep-dish pizza the city is famous for — as well as world-class museums, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Lollapalooza music festival.

18. Portland, Oregon

18. Portland, Oregon


Population: 2,288,796

Median annual salary: $50,710

Overall rank on best places to live list: 20

Portland isn’t for everybody — its slogan is “Keep Portland Weird,” after all. But one local expert asserts that it’s a “well-rounded city with more than just the offbeat shops and events” and a population that has “more academic degrees than the national average.” An annual job-growth rate of 2.9% per year is attributed to roots in the technology sector, including major employer Intel Corp., as well as the 6,000-employee headquarters for Nike, about 7 miles outside Portland.

17. Houston, Texas

17. Houston, Texas


Population: 6,204,141

Median annual salary: $50,830

Overall rank on best places to live list: 17

Houston is a major player in the oil and gas, manufacturing, aerospace, and healthcare industries — it’s also home to 26 Fortune 500 companies. According to one local expert, “a paycheck goes further in Houston than it does in other major cities, with affordable housing and free or cheap attractions.” Plus, the city has an affinity for food, counting some 11,000 restaurants within its boundaries.

16. Worcester, Massachusetts

16. Worcester, Massachusetts

Flickr / Jason Ouellet and Chelsea Creekmore

Population: 924,722

Median annual salary: $51,330

Overall rank on best places to live list: 65

Though by no means small, Worcester offers a more pastoral atmosphere than many cities its size — known for its rolling hills and nearly 500 acres of parks. A dynamic healthcare sector, including several hospitals and medical-research universities, furnish many residents with lucrative careers.

15. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Population: 6,015,336

Median annual salary: $51,740

Overall rank on best places to live list: 82

With top-notch colleges and robust health, finance, and education sectors, workers who live in Philadelphia earn competitive salaries from companies like Wells Fargo and the University of Pennsylvania.

The City of Brotherly Love also has a thriving food scene and a passionate sports culture. Tread carefully if you plan to support a rival of the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, or 76ers.

14. Sacramento, California

14. Sacramento, California


Population: 2,197,422

Median annual salary: $51,970

Overall rank on best places to live list: 68

As California’s state capital, Sacramento is a desirable place to live thanks to a healthy job market, especially in construction, technology, and healthcare. The tourism sector is also growing, hosting multiple conventions and sporting events, including cycling tours and marathons.

The city is also a magnet for outdoors enthusiasts, providing abundant green spaces and easy access to several national parks and forests.

13. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

13. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota


Population: 3,424,786

Median annual salary: $52,080

Overall rank on best places to live list: 12

The Twin Cities have “big-city amenities like museums and sports stadiums, but also have an approachable, Midwestern feel,” according to a local expert. Residents are accustomed to the area’s changing seasons, participating in ice fishing and cross-country skiing in the winter and music festivals and baseball games in the spring and summer. Jobs areavailable in science-focused fields at companies like Xcel Energy and Medtronic as well as retail corporations like Best Buy and Target.

12. Baltimore, Maryland

12. Baltimore, Maryland


Population: 2,753,396

Median annual salary: $52,460

Overall rank on best places to live list: 67

Baltimore — aka Charm City — has experienced an influx of new residents in recent years and a growing bioscience industry that’s created a slew of employment opportunities at places like Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland.

According to a local expert, Baltimore has a flourishing dining scene, timeless and elegant architecture, and a small-town feel that’s cherished by locals.

11. Los Angeles, California

11. Los Angeles, California


Population: 18,241,809

Median annual salary: $53,000

Overall rank on best places to live list: 83

The country’s second-largest city has, well, everything to offer. From mountains and deserts to forests and beaches, there’s no shortage of sunny, outdoor activities at the fingertips of Los Angeles‘ millions of residents and visitors. The job market is varied, too, with top employers in manufacturing, transportation, trade, and business. And the city’s “creative economy” provides more than 355,000 jobs in museums, fashion and design.

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10. San Diego, California

10. San Diego, California


Population: 3,183,143

Median annual salary: $53,020

Overall rank on best places to live list: 16

With year-round sunshine and beautiful beaches to boot, it’s easy to enjoy living in San Diego. According to US News, this Southern California gem “offers world-class dining, professional sports, and entertainment options” for college students, young professionals, and families.

Tourism is a huge industry in San Diego — which sees more than 30 million visitors annually — but the city’s seaside location is more than just eye candy. Some of the area’s largest employers include the US Navy and the Marine Corps.

9. Denver, Colorado

Population: 2,651,392

Median annual salary: $53,060

Overall rank on best places to live list: 1

While Denver sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains, it’s not considered a mountain town, since it takes at least an hour to get to the Rockies for snowboarding and ski activities, a local expert said.

At 5,279 feet, the Mile High City lives up to its name in more ways than one. In 2012, Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, paving the way for a flourishing and lucrative cannabis industry.

8. New Haven, Connecticut

8. New Haven, Connecticut


Population: 863,148

Median annual salary: $53,350

Overall rank on best places to live list: 88

The small seaside town of New Haven combines “New England charm and global cosmopolitanism,” making it the “cultural capital of Connecticut,” according to a local expert. The city is home to Yale University, which has long attracted politicians, artists, and innovators to the area, and it’s also known for its New Haven-style pizza.

Healthcare, education, and social services are the largest job sectors in New Haven, in part because of the university and Yale-New Haven Hospital.

7. Hartford, Connecticut

7. Hartford, Connecticut


Population: 1,215,159

Median annual salary: $55,580

Overall rank on best places to live list: 59

Hartford is one of the oldest cities in the US, once home to famous literary figures Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Its location in the Connecticut River Valley provides residents with “rolling hills and wooded neighborhoods” in addition to nearby mountains, state parks, and vineyards, said a local expert.

Aerospace, healthcare, insurance, and financial companies have become the largest industries in Hartford. Top employers include United Technologies Corp., Hartford Hospital, and Aetna.

6. Seattle, Washington

Population: 3,557,037

Median annual salary: $57,370

Overall rank on best places to live list: 7

Seattle is sandwiched between water and mountains and doesn’t get as much rain as you’d think, said one local expert. The city’s residents are drawn to the area for its atmosphere of “calm and patience” and its close proximity to nature. Jobs in Seattle are concentrated in the tech, healthcare, and maritime industries, but the city is also a huge manufacturing center for companies like Boeing.

5. New York City, New York

5. New York City, New York


Population: 20,799,260

Median annual salary: $59,060

Overall rank on best places to live list: 96

The largest city in America is a melting pot for the world’s cultures. With five boroughs and dozens of neighborhoods, New York City has endless options for entertainment, cuisine, and recreation. Its cost of living is among the highest in the US, and one local expert said that people often move to “the city that never sleeps” to “test the adage ‘if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.'”

As the financial capital of the US, the city is a global hub for dozens of Fortune 500 companies, including Pfizer, Verizon, and Goldman Sachs. Plus, the unemployment rate is at its lowest point since 2008.

4. Boston, Massachusetts

Population: 4,650,876

Median annual salary: $60,540

Overall rank on best places to live list30

Boston attracts a diverse group of residents, including everyone from recent college graduates and retirees to musicians and engineers. The historical city — often referred to as the “Cradle of Liberty,” according to one local expert — also overflows with team spirit for the Red Sox, who boast an equally rich history.

3. Washington, DC

Population: 5,863,608

Median annual salary: $64,930

Overall rank on best places to live list: 8

The District’s neighborhoods give off their own vibe, but across the city residents often “gather for block parties, mingle at dog parks, and converse at coffee shops,” said a local expert. While Washington, DC, is known as a hub for politics, there’s also a strong job market for education and health services.

2. San Francisco, California

2. San Francisco, California

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Population: 4,466,251

Median annual salary: $64,990

Overall rank on best places to live list: 9

A local expert described San Francisco as “the heart of the bohemian lifestyle, the epicenter of the LGBT rights movement, and the launching point of the technology era.” In the last decade, thousands of tech companies have raced to set up shop in the Bay Area, sending the cost of living through the roof. But despite all the focus on the tech and startup scenes, the city also has plenty of business jobs available, with more than 30 international finance headquarters.

1. San Jose, California

1. San Jose, California

Getty/Justin Sullivan

Population: 1,898,457

Median annual salary: $75,770

Overall rank on best places to live list: 10

The sprawling city of San Jose is “as much defined by its suburban neighborhoods and large tech campuses as it is by the high-rises in its business district,” said a local expert. Young residents and recent graduates of nearby Stanford and UC Berkeley have no trouble finding jobs in the area, which touts Cisco, eBay, and IBM as its largest private-sector employers.

Original article appeared on businessinsider

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